Yamaha Return To WSBK With Alex Lowes And Sylvain Guintoli

As had been long predicted, Yamaha is to return to the World Superbike championship in 2016 to race the YZF-R1. Yamaha Motor Europe is to throw its weight behind the Crescent team run by Paul Denning, and will field 2014 WSBK champion Sylvain Guintoli and Crescent's current rider Alex Lowes.

Great things are expected of the new R1. Once the teams got it dialed in, the bike has performed exceptionally well in its debut year in the BSB and MotoAmerica championships, as well as in World Endurance. Bradley Smith, Pol Espargaro and Katsuyuki Nakasuga took the bike to victory in the Suzuka 8 Hours race as well.

The Yamaha set up will be very similar to that of the highly successful Kawasaki team, where Crescent receive factory backing from Yamaha, while running the team independently. 

Crescent's switch to Yamaha leaves no team to run Suzukis in World Superbikes in 2016. The GSX-R1000 had been severely lacking in performance in the last couple of years, especially after the rule changes for 2014 and 2015. Not having Suzukis running in WSBK  may hamper the efforts of the Japanese factory when they launch their brand new Gixxer in the middle of next year. Unfortunately, due to WSBK homologation rules and Suzuki's supply chain, the bikes will not be able to compete from the start of the season, so anyone wanting to take on the task of racing Suzukis would have to wait until half season before they could even think about racing the new bike, and would spend the rest of the season developing it.

One side effect of Guintoli signing for Yamaha is that it leaves a seat open alongside Michael van der Mark in the Pata Honda squad. That seat will now be hotly contested, especially as Aprilia have also announced they will not be fielding a factory team. That could be an interesting prospect for Nicky Hayden, who looks to be out of MotoGP next year. American Honda would be keen to see Hayden remain with the brand, and Dorna are keen to have an American racing in World Superbikes. Though 2016 will be a tough year on the CBR1000RR, with a new bike due for 2017, that would open an interesting perspective.

Below is the press release from Yamaha announcing their return to WSBK:


Yamaha Returns to World Superbike

Yamaha Motor Europe will make its official return to the World Superbike Championship in 2016 in collaboration with highly experienced partner Crescent Racing and title sponsors PATA. The team will place the new YZF-R1 in the talented hands of 2014 World Superbike Champion Sylvain Guintoli and 2013 British Superbike Champion Alex Lowes.

PATA has a proven track record and passion for motorsport with a high profile presence in World Superbike, making them a perfect complement to the partnership of Yamaha and Crescent Racing in 2016.

Frenchman Guintoli has over 15 years experience in racing, with 45 podiums, 10 race wins and, of course, the 2014 world title to his credit - in classes spanning 250cc, MotoGP, British Superbike and World Superbike. While young British rider Lowes took 20 podiums, 8 wins and 6 pole positions on his way to his 2013 British Superbike title. He has also competed with Crescent for the last two seasons so is no stranger to the team or the WSBK series.

Returning to the World Superbike stage for the first time since 2011, Yamaha Motor Europe's strategy is clear - to make full use of the all-new YZF-R1 to challenge for victory in the premier production Superbike series. Yamaha's impressive history in the Championship, combined with the stunning base specification of the YZF-R1, offers an unrivalled opportunity to campaign for victory honours.

2009 saw Yamaha take their first World Superbike Championship title, breaking multiple records throughout the season with American rider Ben Spies on board. Iconic riders such as Noriyuki Haga, Troy Corser, James Toseland, Marco Melandri and Cal Crutchlow, among others, have all taken their turns delivering countless victories on the YZF-R1 throughout Yamaha's Superbike career.

Crescent will partner Yamaha as their fully-supported Official WSBK Team from 2016. Crescent is the World Superbike Championship's only UK-based team and has a 20-year racing history at both national and global level that features victories in the British Superbike Championship, World Superbike and MotoGP.

Yamaha Motor Europe will retain responsibility over racing strategy and technical development, as well as the rider agreements with Crescent's hugely experienced, dedicated, technical and engineering racing personnel running the team's operation at each of the Championship rounds.

The all-new Yamaha YZF-R1 arrived as a game changer in 2015, re-writing the rulebook for the Supersport market as the next generation of racing machine. As the 2015 racing season draws to a close it can already claim numerous victories - including the inaugural Road America AMA Championship and the legendary Suzuka 8Hr Endurance race in the hands of MotoGP stars Pol Espargaro, Bradley Smith and five-time All Japan Superbike Champion Katsuyuki Nakasuga. In the UK the R1 is in contention for the British Superbike Championship title, while across Europe the story continues with both the Polish Superbike Championship and the French Superstock Championship secured. Yamaha also currently leads the Spanish FIM CEV Repsol International Championship and last weekend claimed second overall in the FIM Endurance World Championship in the hands of France's GMT94 Yamaha team.

"This is a very exciting moment for us as we eagerly wait to return to the top level of Superbike competition next year after an absence of four years," commented Yamaha Motor Europe Chief Operating Officer, Eric De Seynes.

"Having re-written the Supersport rule book and changed the game with the new YZF-R1, directly developed from Yamaha MotoGP technology, it was clear we would need to return to the World Superbike Championship to show the full potential of our new Superbike machine. We took one year to grow experience with the new R1 in many other championships where the bike has shown its potential already, with the amazing 8H of Suzuka victory and the very positive results that our official Teams are gathering all around Europe. Now we are ready to be back on the world stage and I am happy we have found in Crescent the same values of professionalism, engineering detail and passion for victory we share."

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Comments

Judging on reviews, the new R1 is a peach of a bike. Loads of power and advcanced electronic gadgets to tame it and make it useful. Going the oversquare route once again also means even more avaiable power for the tuners as well.

Total votes: 72

It's extremely rough out of the box, and most of those magazine reviews were written based off of the Eastern Creek press event with circuit ECUs on the bike. Later reviews of stock bikes in U.S. trim weren't as favorable. I just dropped mine off at the local tuner for the third time to try fixing the abrupt throttle, the stock steering damper is a worthless decoration, U.S. noise restrictions mean we get about 15 less hp than the rest of the world, and the power is definitely biased to the high RPM range (pretty nice after flashing to get full power, though). Sucks down fuel like no other bike I've ever ridden, and the low fuel light doesn't come on until about three laps before the pump starts starving under acceleration. Stock final drive gearing is way too tall.

On the bright side, it's extremely light and compact, handles amazingly well, and the electronics package is every bit as good as the reviews suggest--throttle-by-wire issues aside. Suspension is okay for cheap stock stuff, but the fork isn't exactly great.

I'm naturally pretty picky about the things I pay a lot of money for, so this sounds like a lot of bitching about a machine that tends to slap a big smile on my face, but I'm surprised at what all I've had to do (and am still doing) to get it just right. As a platform for racing, though, I can clearly see how this bike has amazing potential.

Total votes: 72

Thanks for chiming in. I love hearing about how folks that "really ride" bikes are getting on with them, even though this isn't a site geared to that. Except for the steering damper those are all concerns that one could have for pretty much every stock off the showroom floor production sport bike. The lean idle to abrupt power from closed throttle is every stock bike no? I expect to re-map them. Pipes too. And suspension settings of course.

We are so fortunate to have the development rate we have on bikes. I had the first generation R1 and it was really amazing once the suspension was redone for the track. Now 600's make that much power and do so more sweetly. I got greedy and went from a 2007 CBR600RR I loved but wished for a bit more power from, to a 2009 CBR1000RR that was a brute - ish angry jerk that wanted to throw me off. Now an Ohlins-Brembo R package Triumph 675 has arrived to return the joy of a sharp carving bike. And I have notions of wishing it was an 800cc and remembering yearnings for a bit of power with the 600 Honda.

Enjoy making your R1 the bike you want. We are a tough lot to please!
;)

Total votes: 71

Well, an '08, actually, but it's the same bike. Lost it when my shop burnt down, and bought the R1 with insurance money.

The 600RR is a completely analog bike, and it worked fantastically for what it was. The R1 is my first bike with all the new, fancy whiz-bang electronics, and I guess I'm just surprised that all of this new electronic wizardry somehow results in worse throttle control than a simple direct push/pull cable.

I slapped bodywork, slicks, case covers, rearsets, and an $11 R6 throttle tube on my Honda and, after a bit of suspension clicking, it was good enough for me on the track. With the R1, it's all of those things plus exhaust, flash (three times now...), steering damper, Motion Pro throttle, adjustable clutch lever, etc. A lot more expensive and time consuming to get it right!

On the bright side, I shaved five seconds off my best lap time on the first day out with the R1--in bone stock trim. And I was shocked to see most of that time came in the corners and not just from using the extra horsepower on the straights! Great handling machine, and I'm sure I'll get it to where I want it.

Total votes: 68

Was at Assen at the weekend and the R1 sounds like a slightly silenced M1, best sounding bike on the grid. It gets out of the corners really well. In race two Ellison had about a 3.5 second lead which Brookes ate into very quickly. I would be great to see VR finish his career on it with a championship when he alls it a day in Motogp..

Total votes: 73

Agree, the sound is almost as nice as a 500cc two stroke ;-) almost ......

Total votes: 61

Can't see that happening, think VR will go straight from racing in MotoGP to team management.

Total votes: 72

The omission of the MotoAmerica super bike champion's name in that press release says quite a bit in my eyes.

Colin Edwards summed it up pretty well in a recent interview. Something along the lines of any American who wants to catch the attention of the world scene doesn't need to just win. They need to wipe the floor of the competition. Beaubier's championship run was hardly awe inspiring.

Total votes: 88

I think it's a little more complex than that. Cameron had a stronger career on a 600 than Herrin and their superbike championship seasons were quite different. Herrin benefited pretty heavily from Hayes' bad luck, including a double mechanical at Daytona to start the season.

Cameron's attitude is also like 300% better than Herrin's....

Total votes: 70

With all the talk of Hayden to Aprilia next year I am now wondering if Honda is now the option. Is the new GP knock-off V4 version going to be allowed per the rules for WSBK next year or ever?

Total votes: 65

In a word, no. It is too expensive so falls foul of the rules. Max cost must be under €40k, I believe.

Total votes: 71

The V4 doesn't meet homologation requirements because of its high price and low production numbers, so it's out.

I can't imagine Nicky Hayden having any desire to race the current Fireblade against the R1, Panigale, RSV4 and revised ZX-10 and GSXR1000 next year – it's dragging anchors compared to this year's competition and even Nicky's Honda loyalty can only extend so far. Honda really needs a new bike and a hot rider. And without the former they're going to have trouble attracting the latter. They were really fortunate to get VanDerMark this year.

Here's WSBK Silly Season tally so far as I can tell:

Kawasaki
Jonathan Rea
Tom Sykes

Ducati
Chaz Davies
Davide Guiliano

Yamaha
Alex Lowes
Sylvain Guintoli

Honda
Michael VanDerMark
?

Suzuki
?
?

MV Augusta
Leon Camier?

Red Devils Aprilia
?
?

Althea Ducati
?
?

Total votes: 66

Ben Spies WSBK championship season was made all the more epic by how un-sorted his Yamaha was at the start of that season. Two recent superbike champions on a team with a proven team manager is good. But to be given factory supported bikes that have dominated American and British national championships plus Suzuka? Should be a done deal right? ;)

Total votes: 72

Powerful combo.
And PATA is leaping to the team from Honda as well. The surprise for me is Denning leaving his uninterrupted deep relationship with Suzuki, They have been confluent.
Expect great things.
Welcome back Yamaha!

Total votes: 79

When Suzuki took officials entry status away from Crescent in BSB & gave it to Tas instead.

What's really impressive about the new R1 is BSB is a control ECU no traction control or anti wheelie etc so to rock up against a bike as sorted and fast as the ZX &!beat it straight off in 1 season is pretty special

Total votes: 62

We need both these guys in SBK. Hayden because this is the series he has always belonged in. Great guy, great rider, but in all his years in MotoGp, he has won three races. He had top notch equipment in the early years, so I don't want to hear about him not having the right support. I think he can still get it done in SBK, but it would have been easier had he gone there to begin with. As for Beaubier, if he dosen't get across the pond soon, his career will stagnate. He needs more than Josh Hayes to motivate him. His time is now, if it ever will be. I cannot believe that Yamaha wouldn't elevate him to this series right away seeing as how the U.S. market is so huge. Dumb.

Total votes: 82

Beaubier needs a little more time to sort himself out on a Superbike. He's an amazing talent but still lacks that little something extra. One or two more years and I think he'll really shine. I personally would be looking at Josh Brooks. I'm not sure why they didn't. He's been fast on everything they give him. I would pick him over Guinters. I might catch flack for that, but that's what I would do. Sylvain is a great, consistent rider, and no slouch by any means. But I feel like he's on the downward slope of his career. Yes I know, last year's champ, but I feel his consistency and bike played a big role, rather than outright speed.

Total votes: 70

While Josh seems to be coming into his own this year in BSB, he's 32 now, which (apparently) is the twilight of a pro racers career. But personally I'd love to see him in WSK.

Total votes: 73

Beaubier could do worse than look for a two year deal on a competitive BSB bike to establish were he really is at just now.

Milwaukee Yamaha would be a good pitch to make.

Total votes: 67

We have a winner. I'm all for it.

In my opinion, Joe Roberts is neck & neck with Cam as riders who need to get over to Europe by any means necessary and cause a splash if they really wanna showcase their stuff. Yes it may not be a full factory pay level gig, but hey....our stature in road racing doesn't merit that at the time being.

Total votes: 65

Some of those UK tracks are very idiosynchratic, narrow lil' goat tracks, and a promising rider could easily spend a few years learning them (and the weather) before they can make an impression and move their career along. Not saying it's a bad move but it's not an easy step either.

Smrz, Guinter's, Hopkins, Jacobsen, Water's (multi Australian champion) have all found it pretty tough going.

But maybe that's why the UK boys are doing well on the bigger stage now, it may well be a good training ground. And in the absence of any alternatives it would have to be on his radar? The series obviously has a great profile and high calibre riders to gauge himself against.

Total votes: 61

I too hoped for him to go, without even stepping up to AMASBK. He could've gone from DMG Sportbike to Moto2 instead of Josh Herrin. That was the move I could not believe.

However, after 2 years of SBK for Beaubier, I kinda understand Yamaha going with Guintoli and Lowes for next season. Frankly, I expected Beaubier to beat Josh Hayes more convincingly this season. If Hayes hadn't have fallen at Atlanta, Beaubier would likely still be looking for a SBK title.

Total votes: 69

Josh Brookes would have to consider himself very unlucky. He has developed the bike into a race winning package in the most competitive domestic series there is. No-one has done what he has with the new R1. I hope Yamaha don't regret it......

Total votes: 65

I think Josh Hayes would beg to differ with you. Had it not been for an off in the wet, Josh would have 4-5 titles in a row on the R1. He may be older than Brookes though, not sure. Then again, that may be Brookes' problem too.

Hayes did pretty darn good on his one MotoGp ride at Valencia as I recall........

Total votes: 60

just read the article , ..

what if hayden do sign with the ten kate team . ? if honda america helps hayden and bring a load money and some good new engineers, for the data , and team structure ? and a new head sponsor because pata is leaving the ten kate team

Total votes: 60

If he does, he'll be riding a bike that's basically the same since 2004. Guinters won the title last year, switched to Honda and this year he's 6th in pts. while his rookie teammate is in 7th.

I can't imagine this would appeal to Nicky....but just look at what he's been riding the last 2 seasons.

Total votes: 70

Spot on w the point, but it was 2008.
Cheers!

Total votes: 76

just read the article , ..

what if hayden do sign with the ten kate team . ? if honda america helps hayden and bring a load money and some good new engineers, for the data , and team structure ? and a new head sponsor because pata is leaving the ten kate team

Total votes: 67

I'm a bit surprised that Yamaha didn't grab Melandri considering that he was very successful on the R1 prior to them deciding to pull out of the series. He was so successful on the R1 that not many people remember that Tom Sykes was his teammate at that time. Maybe Melandri's actions with Aprilia in GP put a bad taste in the mouths of Team Yamaha and they decided not to take a chance on him, but to me, he's still an extremely talented and capable racer to not have a ride in any series this year.

***I haven't seen his name on any list of racers for any series yet for 2016 so if someone knows something I don't, please share!!!***

Total votes: 63

Melandri is currently offering to ride for nothing, subject to certain conditions. He is talking to people in WSBK and MotoAmerica.

If you want to know why he is having to offer to ride for free, just look at where Stefan Bradl is on the Aprilia. Melandri was constantly 2 seconds a lap slower than Alvaro Bautista, and usually dead last. Bradl is competing with and beating Bautista, despite just having jumped on the bike.

It was clear from the very start that Melandri did not want to be part of Aprilia's MotoGP project, but instead of buying himself out of his contract, he stayed and moped around at the back of the pack. This behavior, coupled with a previous history of not being willing to push on a bike he didn't believe was capable of winning, and of disregarding team orders and not being a team player, has made teams very wary of signing him. Add to this the fact that he is 33, and coming towards the end of his career, and signing young potential over a rider with known frailties and foibles is a no-brainer for teams.

Could Melandri still win in WSBK? If he has the right package and the right people around him, then he certainly can. But if he doesn't have the right package, a team can find that they have spent a lot of money to be cruising around in 9th. 

Total votes: 67

Here's what I have so far:

Kawasaki
Jonathan Rea
Tom Sykes

Ducati
Chaz Davies
Davide Guiliano

Yamaha
Alex Lowes
Sylvain Guintoli

Honda
Michael VanDerMark
Nicky Hayden

Suzuki
?
?

MV Augusta
Leon Camier?

Red Devils Aprilia
?
?

Althea Ducati
?
?

Total votes: 67

Althea will probably be BMW, and have Markus Reiterberger and Jordi Torres. There are rumors of a BSB team making the step to World Superbikes, possibly to run Suzukis, but nothing concrete. Josh Brookes is known to be looking for a WSBK ride, but again, nothing has been settled yet.

Total votes: 75